Zooming in on ‘Heterotopia’: CCTV-operator Practices at Schiphol Airport

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Airports are places that are heavily surveilled by different (technical) means, including CCTV (Closed Circuit Television). So far, the literature on CCTV has not paid much attention to the practices behind the screens of the CCTV monitors at airports. In this article, we present an in-depth, ethnographic study of the use of CCTV in the Military Police's control room at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. We find that, since nobody is 'at home' at Schiphol, surveillance through CCTV is a challenge for the police. The operators in the control room are constantly struggling with the question how to spot deviance in a situation where they believe normal behavior does not exist. Our study shows that the categories for singling out the abnormal identified by Norris and Goold are rarely used by the Military Police at Schiphol. Instead, they heavily rely on routine, transmitted, and retrospective surveillance. © 2012-IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages7
JournalInformation Polity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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